Israel Prison Riots, more deaths and injury

25 Oct

According to the AL Jazeera report, “Protests after Israel prison riot” dated October 23, a riot broke out at the Ketziot prison in the southern Negev desert a day before; which left 15 Palestinian prisoners and 15 guards injured. An unnamed prisoner was confirmed dead later at the hospital, killed by non-lethal objects fired by guards, according to Israel prison authorities. The man was however identified as Mohammad al-Ashkar, a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group by Palestinian Authority’s minister for prisoner affairs, Ashraf Ajrami.

According to another BBC report, “Palestinian inmate dies of wounds” , prisoners accused prison guards of provoking the unrest by “searching sleeping quarters at night, and then used unacceptably violent methods to regain control.” In their defence, the prison authorities described the “search as routine and said guards had used the correct response in view of the danger to their lives.”

The Al Jazeera article reported that 1,000 inmates are involved in the riot in which they attack the guards and set fire on the tents where they lived in. More than 2,000 Palestinians are being held in this prison.

The result of the prison riots are more protests and a hunger strike.

The Prisoners Club, the main group representing Palestinian prisoners claimed that most of its 10,000 inmates held in Israel jail were on a one day hunger strike to protest against the atrocity though Yarona Zamir, a spokeswoman for Israel’s prison service, disputed the figures.

Protests are also being held in Gaza and the West Bank against the death and the demand for the release of Palestinian prisoners. As many as 10,000 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails, many being held without ever having faced trial according to BBC’s correspondent in Ramallah, Aleem Maqbool.

Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland commented that the provocative act is seen by Palestinians as an effort to disrupt the upcoming negotiation process between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the U.S.

Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, engaging in a game of divisive politics, has chosen to only engage with Fatah and not Hamas, which its government deems the latter as a violent group – claiming that the prisoners involved in the riots were members of the group. He has also announced and allowed the release of only Fatah but not Hamas prisoners.

Yet not everyone agrees with the Israeli’s Prime Minister’s stance of sidelining Hamas. According to BBC article, “Israeli seeks Hamas participation”, Israeli minister without portfolio, Ami Ayalon, has said that Hamas should be invited to the negotiation table provided they “abide by any agreement signed between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas”.

A month ago, prominent Israeli academics and writers such as Amos Oz, David Grossman and AB Yehoshua, have signed a petition, urging the government to negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas.

Ex- American President, Jimmy Carter has also favoured engagement with Hamas, which he claims, has won in the last free and fair election. He commented, in an AP report, “Carter: Stop favoring Fatah over Hamas” that the American-Israeli-European consensus to reopen direct aid to the new government in the West Bank, but to deny the same to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, represented an “effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples.”

The outcome of the possibility of the conference for the peace talks currently being promoted by Condeeleza Rice in her Middle Eastern tour which will see Palestinians participation is a distinct remote possibility given the heightened tensions and increased violence between Israel and the Occupied Territories. On Wednesday, 24 October, Israeli troops opened fire and killed two Gaza teenage boys in an area where Palestinians had earlier launched three rockets into Israel.

Not only has Israel declared Gaza a “hostile entity”, imposed an economic blockade, it has now even proposed reducing at least two thirds of its power to the area.

Officials estimate that Gaza uses about 200 megawatts of electricity, of which 120 directly came from Israeli power stations, 17 from Egypt, and 65 in Gaza.

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